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THE VETERAN

Page 47
Download PDF of this full issue: v51n1.pdf (21.1 MB)

<< 46. Silent Scream48. The Ducks On the Hoi An River (poem) >>

Peaches (poem)

By rg cantalupo

[Printer-Friendly Version]

I don't know how she did it.
Her sure fingers
gripped the pink edge
of the gauze bandage
yellowed by pus and blood
and ripped
one after the other—
thirteen open wounds in all—
a quick tear
and they were off,
the new fresh blood
bleeding out my chest,
legs, and arms
as I bit down hard
on an imaginary bullet
and swallowed
a soundless scream.

She was twenty-two,
she said, volunteered
for the Army after finishing
nursing school,
would've been a doctor
if it weren't for the war,
and her brother.
He'd gone in 1967,
and returned, coffin
dressed in a flag.
That's when she decided.
Been in Saigon six months
when I got there,
waking from brain surgery
with no memory of home

She didn't know how long
she could keep on going.
"Tired", she said, "so tired
these days, so many
young boys with my
brother's face."

One afternoon,
her fingers touched mine
as they moved
over the gauze
near my heart
and I clasped them
in a lover's embrace.
When I left
a few weeks later
for a hospital in Japan,
her eyes teared up
as her lonesome hand
waved goodbye,
waved as if we were
secret lovers,
I imagined.

Every now and then,
I still see her,
her deep, brown eyes
studying mine
as I gritted through
the pain.
I saved the letters
I wrote her in Yokohama.
I never knew
where to send them.

—rg cantalupo


<< 46. Silent Scream48. The Ducks On the Hoi An River (poem) >>



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